The Odd Woman and the City - A Memoir

Odd Woman and the City takes its name from a couple of pieces of literature that meant a lot to the author. George Gissing’s Odd Women resonated a lot with Gornick in her youth. It was one of the first times she saw in literature people who looked, sounded and felt like her. I imagine some of Gornick’s contemporary readers, especially urban dwellers like me, will feel this way about her addition to the literary landscape in this book.

The writing is inspired, full of feeling, but not sharp. I don’t think sharpness was one of Gornick’s goals. She sets out in this memoir to paint a more impressionistic vision of her life in New York. And in so doing, she ends up describing the life of many single, urban, creative people in this city. The book is full of beautiful, meditative thoughts on friendship, intimate relationships, loneliness and solitude. As someone building a life for myself, alone, in New York, I gained a lot from reading about Gornick’s life.